Wales recorded their first victory over their Scottish counterparts for ten years last season, with an entertaining 5-0 win, and will be looking for a repeat performance on Saturday.
The game will see impressive No.8 Kylie Wilson win her fiftieth cap, becoming the seventh player in the squad to reach the milestone - highlighting the abundance of experience available to Wales. Wilson, a recent PhD graduate and full-time lecturer, has become an integral part of the Welsh team over the past few seasons consistently performing well at the base of the scrum.
In contrast Rachel Poolman, the youngest player in the squad at just twenty, will be winning her eleventh cap, although she has already become a regular feature in the back line. Having won her first seven caps on the wing Poolman has reverted to her usual outside centre position this season, and has benefited from playing in such an experienced back line.
"Playing alongside the likes of Naomi (Thomas) and Clare (Flowers) has helped me settle into the side and has been a valuable learning curve," explained Poolman. "The game against Ireland was disappointing as we know we can perform better than that, but the main thing is we got the win. However, when we go to Scotland we will need to improve our performance if we are to maintain our winning run," Poolman added.
Head coach Fielies Coetsee also knows the importance of an improved performance this week. "Despite their heavy loss to England last weekend, they will be a very tough challenge and cannot be underestimated," said Coetsee, speaking of the Scots.
Scotland come into the game on the back of a sixty point drubbing to England in their opening game and will be keen to avenge last season's defeat to Wales. They too show just one change from last week, with winger Veronica Fitzpatrick coming into the starting fifteen in place of club mate Tanya Griffith ,who drops out of the match day squad altogether.
Captain Donna Kennedy has passed a fitness test on a thumb injury and takes her place in the back row to win her 97th cap and remains on course to claim her 100th cap in the final round of fixtures. Fly half Erin Kerr was also an injury doubt having taken a knock on her shoulder against England, but she too has been declared fit for this Saturday's crucial game.
Scotland will be desperately keen to make amends for their opening round defeat, whereas Wales are high on confidence at present. If Wales can finish the chances they create then they should win, although Scotland will be a hard side to break down. Wales to win by twenty points.
Scotland Women: 15. Lucy Millard, 14. Cara D'Silva, 13. Donna McGrellis, 12. Suzi Newton, 11. Veronica Fitzpatrick, 10. Erin Kerr, 9. Louise Dalgliesh, 8. Donna Kennedy (c), 7. Susie Brown, 6. Heather Lockhart, 5. Louise Moffat, 4. Lindsay Wheeler, 3. Jilly McCord, 2. Gail Russell, 1. Lynne Reid
Replacements: 16. Sarah-Louise Walker, 17. Beth Dickens, 18. Lana Blyth, 19. Sonia Cull, 20. Rachael Nicolson, 21. Anna Panaytopoulos, 22. Hazel Bielinski
Wales Women: 15. Elen Evans, 14. Louise Rickard, 13. Rachel Poolman, 12. Clare Flowers, 11. Rhian Williams, 10. Naomi Thomas, 9. Mellissa Berry (c), 8. Kylie Wilson, 7. Jamie Kift, 6. Catrina Nicholas, 5. Gemma Hallett, 4. Liza Burgess, 3. Jennifer Davies, 2. Rhian Bowden, 1. Louise Horgan
Replacements: 16. Amy Broadstock, 17. Hannah Roberts, 18. Nicola Evans, 19. Claire Donavan, 20. Becky Davies, 21. Stacey Saunders, 22. Hayley Baxter
Saturday 10th February 2007, 1.00pm - Dunbar RFC
Marcus Leach (Rugby Writer) www.planet-rugby.com